Last week, we booked our flights to China, and realized that once we arrive, Charlotte will have been on 35 flights in her short little life.
How have we survived, you ask? Here’s a list of my best tips for surviving air travel with a baby?
1. Request the bulkhead row: the bulkhead, the front row of the economy section, has some serious perks: extra legroom= play area on the floor, no worries of little feet kicking the passengers in front of you, and on longer flights infants will usually be offered a bassinet to sleep in. There are a couple of downsides though: you’ll have to store carry-on luggage during take-off and landing, and the armrests don’t raise so, if your baby is too big for the bassinet, there’s no way to lie them across mom and dad’s laps. Overall though, the pros totally outweigh the cons.
2. Maximize sleep time: for shorter flights, try to fly at a time that coincides with baby’s naptime. For longer flights, consider flying overnight; we’ve found that Charlotte actually sleeps quite well on airplanes, and even if mom and dad don’t, that downtime is totally worth it.
3. Bring liquids in your carry on: did you know that, when travelling with infants, you’re allowed to break the no-liquids-in-your-carry-on rule? We like to take full advantage of this, and bring a large stock of water for all of us, as well as some juice or pop for the adults (though dont expect airport security to believe that that bottle of tequila is for the baby!)
4. Gate check a stroller: another awesome perk offered to parents is checking a stroller at the gate as you board. Charlotte rarely goes back in her stroller after we take her out at security, but it makes for a great cart for all the carry-on luggage.
5. Don’t pre-board: why spend an extra 30 minutes on the airplane? We often try to board as late as possible, giving Charlotte more time to run around the boarding gate area and burn off some energy, and cutting out a big chunk of unnecessary airplane time. The flight crew might not like it but they’ll like you even less if your already-bored child is screaming during their seatbelt demonstration.
6. Do not fear the in-flight diaper change: every airplane has at least one bathroom equipped with a change table (folds down from above the toilet). Sure, the space is cramped and stinky, but there’s actually ample room to lay baby down, make a quick change, and wash up. Make sure to bring your own change pad.
7. Break the rules: changing things up for a day won’t hurt anybody; llow a little flexibility in the daily routine and activities, and you’ve got another good distraction: offer extra nursing sessions, push bedtime back a little bit, offer baby’s favourite foods and snacks, pull out the flashy gizmos and doo-dads, etc.
8. Pack snacks: for little ones already on solids, airline food is often crummy, when served at all, and unless kids have their own seat, they wont be offered a meal of their own. So make sure to bring tons of snacks for little ones, which also act as a nice distraction when baby hands are dying to pull on the hair of the lady in front of you.
9. Do not expect perfect behaviour: chances are, during the flight there will be a crying spell, there will be some screaming, there will be a significant amount of “no, don’t touch that!” But what do you expect, even adults get grumpy when flying.
10. Expand your horizons: once you’re up in the air and the sealtbelt sign has been turned off, you’re no longer bound to your seat. If baby gets antsy, go for a stroll up and down the aisles, maybe even make some friends. Go visit the flight attendants at the back of the plane and get some water. Make a pit stop and change baby’s diaper. A change of scenery can really do wonders.
How do you survive plane travel with your baby? Got any tips or advice to add?